In The Incredibly True Adventure Of Two Girls In Love, director Maria Maggenti subverts the typical romance, as she explains to Miles Fielder.
"l‘his is contemporary American society in deﬁance of the standarth expounds writer-director Maria Maggenti. ‘an alternative to fatnin values.‘ In fact. you might describe The Incredibly True Adventure ()f 'Iivo Girls In Love. Maggenti‘s debut low budget indie feature. as a lilm of 'alternative family values‘. On the surface. it's a teen romance. However. when you add that it concerns two high school girls — one a lesbian living with her lesbian aunt. the other a middle-class girl experimenting with her sexuality and living with her single parent mother — tnore subversive (yet still universal) issues cotne into play: class. race. teen sexuality.
‘lt's my style. how i do stuff.‘ explains Maggenti. ‘How to translate concerns through character. not philosophy. We don’t live as gay people. we live as people. if you‘re political. people think you don‘t want to have fun. I take my concerns for granted. They come from my own sensibility. not a calculated commercial agenda.‘
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The political tag has arisen as much from one particular event as from her engagement with lesbian and gay issues in her films — Maggenti‘s masterrninding of activist group Act Up‘s famous occupation of Cosmo/mlitan magazine‘s New York offices in the late l980s. Her subsequent documentary film about the protest. Doctors. Liars And Women: AIDS Activists Say No To Cosmo. won awards worldwide. Maggenti arrives at her feature film via television commercials. discarded in favour of more ethical documentaries and short ﬁlms from her days at New York Film School
‘The greatest challenge for tne as art adult looking back on a moment was to get back to a place of innocence.‘ she says of True Adventure. In fact. that film‘s script didn‘t exist when she pitched the film to the producers. ‘What I pitched originally was a tnaudlin melodrama with the characters' relationship already
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Marla Maggenti: taboo-tackling director
established. Everyone and the producers wanted to know how the lovers got together. so I made 'I'rue Adventure up on the spot.‘
Maggenti then revised the script. writing it irt retrospect. ‘l‘m an oral storyteller. The writing comes out of this. It took me eight days to write it [and 2| days to shoot on a budget of 335.000]. the script growing organically — i had no idea what was going to happen. The title was slapped on at the last minute. it suggests energy and teenage enthusiasm.‘
Continuing to subvert from within. to situate her concerns with accessible ﬁlmmaking. Maggenti is currently adapting a novel for Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks studio. ‘lt's about an older woman who falls in love with a young boy.’ she says. ready to tackle another taboo.
'I'lte Incredibly 'I‘rue Adventure 0} 'lim Girls In Love plays the (ilasgmv I'll/n Theatre from Mun IO—Wed l8 Der: See review.
mm— liii-inning ways
Scotland’s next generation ot tiimmakers came at age this week when their achievements were recognised at BAFTA Scotland’s tirst ever llew Scottish Talent Awards. lip- and-comlng names from in lront at and behind the camera assembled in Glasgow on Saturday 7 December as eight awards were given to a range of productions drawn trom Scotland’s independent tilmmaking sector, as well as projects tunded by olticial bodies.
Perhaps the most truly independent work on show was To Whom It May Concern, which won Enrico Harvey the Best Director Award and was praised earlier this year by The Listtor its ‘dellcate melancholy beauty’. Writer- producer—director Harvey, who sank his own money into the short lilm alter being knocked back by industry tunding boards, plans to continue working as a cinematographer tor hire, in order to earn enough to retain complete independence for his own projects. The £500 bursary he and the other winners received with their award will provide the basis tor a lollow-up lilm.
The coveted Best Production Award,
Winning combination: the BAFTA Scotland Hew Talent team (see below)
chosen from all nominations, went to love Me Tender, a short romantic lantasy soon to be seen as part at BBC Scotland’s Mind The Cap series. its director, Patrick Harkins - already known tor his Tartan Short Ilarance and television mini-teature Nightlife- has secured a two picture deal with Guild Path6 (distributors ol Breaking The Waves), which will see him direct an adaptation at James Hawes’s novel A White More With Fins and one other teature.
The lull list at award winners (in
photo trom lett to right) is: (back row) editor Mark Jenkins (Best Technician, Arch Enemy), Enrico Harvey (Best Director, To Whom It May Concern), Frances ngson (Best Producer, Fridge), teenage actor lain Robertson (Best Perlonnance, Small Faces); (tront row) John Milarky (Best Writer, The Star), director David Moore (Best Achievement, The Star), Patrick Harkins (Best Production, love Me Tender) and William Sweeney (Best Composer, An lobairt/The Sacriiice). (Alan Morrison)
The latest British star to become a Hollywood villain is, surprisingly, Pam Ferris, better known tor her role as the lovable mum in The Darling Buds 0! May. Headmistress lrom hell Miss Trunchbull in Roald Dahl’s Matilda is a world away from Ma larkin, but the sweet-natured Ferris nonetheless enjoyed the role immensely.
‘This business of Americans not using their own to play their villains is very worrying lrom a xenophobic point at view,’ she states gently, ‘but it’s great for us. Perhaps there are no American actors ugly enough, they’ve all been got at by plastic surgeons and have their laces behind their ears. I think it’s line it we can be the Taiwan ol the acting profession — supplying all the nasty bits.’
Obviously that kind of pragmatism served the down-to-earth Ferris well during a long shoot which went against the old adage at not working with children (lots of them, in assorted sizes) and animals (newts and cockroaches among others). She looks back on her Hollywood experience with altection — especially her tirst week, which coincided with Matilda director Danny De Vito’s Pulp Fiction pre-Dscar party. ‘At one point I lound mysell in conversation with Christopher Walken, Robert De Hiro and Bruce Springsteen,’ Ferris remembers. ‘I managed not to wet my knickers, but that was really the only brush I had with the big stars.’
The reaction at some at the American press to the less politically correct elements at the lilm was a dillerent story. ‘I read a review at the lilm in an LA paper,’ she says, “where someone was having conniptions about the lilm depicting torture of children and my lesbian predatory behaviour. They also comment on the excrementai quality of the chocolate cake I torce one at the children to eat. I think the person who wrote that,’ she adds with only the slightest Trunchbull twinkle in her eye, ‘has problems.’ (Anwar Brett) Matilda opens on Fri 20 Dec and is reviewed on page 24.
School bully: Pam Ferris in Matilda
22 The List l3 Dec l996-9 Jan I997